4 Must-Haves When Starting a Recurring Giving Program

May 14, 2019
6 minutes
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We’re probably not the first ones to tell you this, but if you haven't already, you need to hop on the recurring giving train. Like, ASAP! Recurring, or monthly giving, is a huge opportunity for your nonprofit to have predictable monthly revenue and build lifetime relationships with some of your most dedicated donors. In fact, according to industry research, recurring donors give on average 42% more each year than non-recurring donors. That’s a lot of extra money that your nonprofit can use to fund awesome.

When your nonprofit is just starting out with recurring giving, or if you’re looking to optimize your program, there are some non-negotiables you need to have in place. Let’s dive into the four things you must have when starting a recurring giving program.

#1 – You Need the Right Tools

We know you don’t have time for extra administrative work. That’s why you need the right tools to run your recurring giving program. Recurring giving works best when your nonprofit can automatically charge or withdraw the monthly donation (think of it in terms of paying for your favorite subscription service each month, but instead, you're donating to your favorite charity). That means you need a payment processing system that works its magic so you don’t have to. Ideally, your payment processing system will be integrated with your donor database so that each gift is automatically recorded.

#2 – Have a System for Dealing with Expired Credit Cards

What’s the biggest reason why nonprofits lose recurring giving donors? Expired credit cards. Yep, and it can be a hassle to follow up with donors to get updated payment information. As you build and grow your recurring giving program, you need a system to deal with expired credit cards. This could be something like running a weekly report and making calls to donors. Or you could set up email automation to follow up with donors who have expired credit cards. In a super magical world, your donor records could trigger the email automation so you don’t have to lift a finger. Even more magical, you could use your donor CRM's Text Engagement solution to text donors with soon-to-be expiring information. Just think about how awesome that would be. 

And P.S, that super magical world exists with Funraise.

#3 – Create a Stellar On-Boarding Process for New Recurring Donors

You know we’re all about showing donors the love. That’s why we love the idea of creating an amazing on-boarding process for new recurring donors. This must include a great thank you letter, but the other bells and whistles are up to you. You could send donors a physical welcome packet, make a thank you phone call, email them a custom thank you video, or invite them to a special stewardship event. Dream big, fundraising friend, and make it awesome for your donor.

#4 – Have a Plan for Donor Retention

An onboarding process is great, but you also need to think about the long-game AKA retaining your recurring donors. Make a list of some touch points you could have with recurring donors throughout the year to remind them of their impact and your gratitude. Here are a few ideas:

  • Host a quarterly Thank-A-Thon for staff and board members to call and say thank you to recurring donors
  • Send them an anniversary card to recognize their giving
  • Invite them to a special event just for recurring donors
  • Let them be an insider with special content

Starting and growing a recurring giving program is a great goal for any nonprofit. By making sure you have these four things in place you’ll be well positioned to grow your program with a lot less headaches.

At Funraise we are super passionate about the power of recurring giving. That’s why we’ve built in many of the tools you need to succeed right into our platform. Easy to use giving forms, integrated payment processing, expired credit card reports. Check, check, check!

Want even more impactful tips on building a recurring giving program? Watch our webinar with charity: water to learn more.

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